Developing information on physical activity for under-fives is one of the 22 initiatives in the Childhood Obesity Plan, and an important part of the broad population health approach for keeping New Zealand children healthy.
Zero to five is a highly influential age and stage for children. It is when they learn basic fine and gross motor skills through movement, play and other every day experiences. Physical skills such as balance, coordination, eye movement, running, catching, throwing will be developed, enabling children to be physically active throughout their lives.
Active Movement resources contain advice on fundamental movement skills for children under five, but are now over a decade old.
Allen + Clarke completed a scoping project on physical activity for children under five years. The purpose of the project was to:
- review literature on fundamental movement skills/physical activity, sedentary behaviour, screen time and sleep for children under five years from 2003 to 2015
- complete a survey of stakeholders including lead maternity carers, Well Child Tamariki Ora and Early Childhood Education providers, public health units and regional sports trusts to find out what resources they would use, and in what format they would use them (ie, printed or online)
- produce a report to the Ministry with options for updating the current advice, based on the literature review and stakeholder survey. The Ministry asked Allen + Clarke to include information on which option provides the best value for money, affordability, and relevance to key stakeholders and consumers.
The Ministry’s preference in the Report is option three – to develop population health guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, screen time and sleep, and accompanying resources for parents and people who work with children under five years.
Physical activity guidelines for children under five years
The Ministry will develop guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, screen time and sleep for children under five years. The guidelines will be developed in conjunction with the HPA, Sport NZ and a technical advisory group of experts on physical activity and sleep. It is likely this process will take 12 to 18 months, with development of new resources following this.
New or updated resources
Once the physical activity guidelines for children under five years have been developed by the Ministry, the HPA will develop new or update existing resources for parents and people who work with children under five as part of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.
Any advice developed by the Ministry and the HPA will address some of the recommendations in the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity report for the World Health Organization.